Dalia Mogahed, a member of President Obama's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, joined a representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT) for a television interview in Great Britain on Sunday.
The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report (GMBDR) noted that Mogahed was interviewed along with Dr. Nasreen Nawaz, women's representative for HT, on the British Muslim show "Muslimah Dilemma," which airs on the Islam Channel. GMBDR described the program as "a show presented by members of Hizb ut-Tahrir" featuring Nawaz "in her capacity as spokesperson" for the group.
In some ways, Mogahed's performance during the 45-minute program (which has been posted to HT's website and can be viewed here) offers a tutorial on how not to make America's case to the Muslim world. Mogahed, who was interviewed by telephone, did not challenge any of the views expressed by Nawaz or HT - including the group's call for establishing an international caliphate and imposition of Islamic law, or sharia, which includes suppression of women's political rights.
Both Mogahed and Nawaz touted the purported benefits of sharia for women. Mogahed, who is executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, was asked about a 2005 Gallup survey of Muslim women entitled "What Women Want – Listening to the Voices of Muslim Women." Mogahed's Gallup unit conducted 8,000 face-to-face interviews with women in eight predominantly Muslim countries and reported that many of those women wanted the law to be based on sharia.
The program host noted that "the media" raises issues of "oppression, injustice" and "second-class citizenship" regarding sharia. "Why do you then feel that so many women in your survey specifically support sharia as the source of legislation for their countries in the Muslim world?" the host asked Mogahed.
Mogahed replied that many Muslim women "have a very different understanding of sharia," and they "associate… gender justice or justice for women with sharia compliance, whereas only a small fraction associated oppression of women with compliance with the sharia."
According to Mogahed, the critical issue today is finding ways to integrate sharia and state law in Muslim-majority countries. She said her survey results showed Muslim women wanted equal rights, democracy, and political suffrage. Mogahed said the hijab was not an issue for the women, and that they were most interested in facilitating women's rights and various good-government issues – which in their minds was congruent with sharia.
The Hizb ut-Tahrir representative claimed that sharia "pioneered rights for women" and said women should be involved in politics. When the host asked why sharia barred women from being heads of state, Nawaz defended the ban by belittling the record of Pakistani President Benazir Bhutto, who was murdered by jihadists. Mogahed failed to rebut these assertions.
Islam Television CEO Mohamed Ali Harrath has also been in the news lately – getting the kind of publicity he would rather avoid. The London Times reported that Harrath, who has been advising Scotland Yard on countering Muslim extremism, is wanted by Interpol for his alleged involvement with a Tunisian terrorist group.
Tunisia claims the organization, the Tunisian Islamic Front (TIF), is a jihadist organization. It accuses Harrath, (who says he founded the group as a nonviolent political party) of seeking support from Osama bin Laden. Harrath has been sentenced in absentia to 56 years in prison by Tunisian courts for terrorist-related crimes.